The Ediphone: June 13, 1918

We have the Dictaphone.

Now, here’s an advertisement for the the competitor of the Dictaphone: The Ediphone. 

Though similar in concept to the former, the difference between the two systems was, according to, “…the recording method, with Edison using ‘hill and dale’ recording, while the Graphophone used lateral (side to side) recording.  The cylinders could have a layer of wax shaved off, to enable re-use.” 

The advertisement below, which appeared in The New York Times on June 13, 1918, is (hey, unsurprisingly!) strikingly similar in image and message to the three advertisements for the Dictaphone:  A pensive business owner or supervisor looks over the office floor, and noting three unoccupied desks – each with a placard prominently denoting that the worker is on (?! – gasp!) “Vacation”, muses upon the need to hire inadequately trained substitute employees (temps?) to accomplish the work of trained personnel.  To the rescue?  The Ediphone!

Intriguingly, the advertisement closes – again, as did the three ads for the Dictaphone – with the suggestion that the prospective customer obtain a copy of the Ediphone company’s free publication, “Better Letters Magazine”.

Scroll down to read the transcribed text of the advertisement…

Don’t worry about “substitute” stenographers

Vacation time is looming up.  Usually that means strange faces trying to handle strange jobs – never a good or satisfactory combination.

This summer your problem is multiplied.  You are short of regular help – it looks impossible to get good substitutes to fill in.  And you are using the shorthand system to boot.

Right you are.  If The Ediphone were on duty in your office all the time you would not be wrinkling your brow on “what to do”.

You would be right side up because you would be able to handle your correspondence efficiently and economically right through the summer.  That’s a plain truth you will discover as soon as you know The Ediphone.


The Ediphone


Call Barnes – Rector 3598

Edwin C. Barnes & Bros.

114 Liberty Street

“Build by Edison – Installed by Barnes”
Ask for Edison’s Better Letters Magazine
Newark office: 207 Market Street (Tel. Market 8053)


This video, by Shawn Borri, demonstrates how to use the Ediphone…

This video, by “The Victrola Guy“, is a presentation of a complete Edison Ediphone and Transcription Machine…


Dictation Machine  (at Wikipedia)

Ediphone (at Museum of Obsolete Media)

Shawn Borri’s YouTube Channel (“Postings of music, and experiments, even daily thoughts of Shawn Borri, controversial ” Mad Audio Scientist”.)

TheVictrolaGuy’s YouTube Channel (“This is an ongoing series of experiments of recording on the Edison Cylinder Phonograph…”)

Pilot Radio: October, 1945

It’s late 1945.  The war has just ended. 

G.I.s are returning.  Many have already returned.

Consumer products are once again becoming available.  In abundance.  In quality.  In variety.

Time for a return to normalcy.  (Albeit, in the retrospect of 2017, a fortuitous, temporary, historically anomalous, overly romanticized normalcy.  Hey, it was nice while it lasted.)

And so we encounter an optimistic, symbolic advertisement from Pilot Radio.  The company was founded in 1919 in Brooklyn, New York by former test pilot Isidore Goldberg, as the Pilot Electronic Manufacturing Company, the name changing in 1932 to “Pilot Radio”.  The company was acquired by Emerson Radio in 1965.   

The advertisement is symbolic and optimistic, with the curious image of an hourglass – denoting the march of time – before a receding horizon.  No actual products are promoted or described.  Rather, the ad’s message is one of pride:  “We’re back”…(note the “To Be Opened Soon” gift box) to manufacture radio and televisions for the consumer market. 

Tested by time in countless homes throughout the world, Pilot Radio has scored a triumph for dependability and unfaltering performance through the war years.  Let the satisfaction of present and past Pilot Radio owners be your guide to greater listening pleasure in the future.

Remember the Pilot Radio trademark.  You’ll be seeing it soon on radio sets that combine the experience of many years in the science of electronics with the artistry of quality production.  It will pay you to wait for a Pilot Radio.

Pilot Radio has also pioneered in television since 1928 and will soon bring you television in its most perfected form.  If you would like to receive further information about Pilot Radio’s activities in television, fill out and mail the coupon below.

“Symbol of Quality”

Pioneers in Frequency Modulation and Television



Early Television Museum – Pilot Radio Corporation History (at Early Television)

Emerson Radio (at Wikipedia)

The Dalton Adding and Calculating Machine: September and October, 1918

Akin to the frequent appearance of advertisements in The New York Times for devices and systems for faster and streamlined communication (such as the Private Automatic Exchange telephone system), so was the promotion of machines that would enable a firm or organization to rapidly manipulate numerical data.

That is, calculating machines.

The two advertisements below – for the Dalton Calculating and Adding Machine – appeared in the closing months of the First World War, and in terms of text and graphics are fitting examples of the way such devices were brought to the attention of the public. 

Though known and marketed as “Adding” machines, the advertisements specifically emphasize the machine’s parallel capabilities in the performance of the subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Given the (simplified) description of how these operations are actually performed, in terms of keystrokes and data entry, it’s evident that the copy-writer assumed that his audience would have a basic familiarity with calculating machines, probably from the use of earlier generations of such devices.

Given the timing of the advertisements, it’s notable that the “first” example, from September 17, 1918, specifically alludes to mobilization for America’s effort in “The Great War”, a central issue underlying this effort being speed.  (A brief segue, as it were.)  An analogy is drawn to the capabilities of the Dalton Calculating Machine.  But, with appearance of the example from over a month later – in late October – the war, which would end thirteen days later, is neither mentioned nor alluded to. 

Obviously, the future was at stake, not the present. 

The full text of both advertisements is presented below.


September 17, 1918

Put greater Speed into your
Office Accounting

“Speed up” is our national “middle name”.  We gather our men, materials, machinery together and then the wheels commence to turn with mighty force.  The same is applicable to the new office girl who is given a DALTON Adding-Calculating Machine to figure with.

Here is her instrument for the production of figure facts.  No machine equals it in simplicity of keyboard.  Only 10 keys, one for each numeral.  She writes 1276.91 and then 1.53, then .77.  She notes each figure is put into its proper column automatically.  Consider the ease of figuring, the accuracy, the relief afforded by this service.

Shortly she begins to operate the keys without looking at them at all.  This is “touch operation”.  It is the fastest, moist accurate method of handling figures, and is practicable only on the DALTON.  Multiplication – all figure work requiring multiplication is easily handled.  The DALTON adds, subtracts, multiplies, divides, makes out statements, tabulates.  It is the “all-around” adding, listing, calculating machine for figure work in any business.

Phone Barclay 9729 for Demonstration

Compare your present methods with the 10-KEY DALTON.  It may mean a saving in labor or time you did not consider possible.  Phone today or write for data descriptive of the DALTON.

642-646 Woolworth Bldg.


Main Office and Factory, Cleveland, Ohio



October 29, 1918

The All-around Calculating Machine for Every Business

No other office figuring machine has the practical application of the DALTON.  Aside from the simplicity of the keyboard arrangement which eliminates the necessity of experienced help – aside from its utility as the fastest adding and listing machine made – it is also a versatile all-around calculating machine.

Adding machines, as a rule, are designed for adding and listing only.  The DALTON is far more than an adding machine.  It is as easy to multiply on the DALTON as it is to add.  The cipher (0) key makes this possible.  Multiplication of the most complicated problems is but a question of seconds.

See it yourself.  Here is a machine for any arrangement in any business. Railroads, great mercantile houses, business firms everywhere, are standardizing on DALTONS.  It adds, subtracts, multiplies, divides, lists, every operations, adds two totals at once, makes statements, tabulates, etc.

Phone Barclay 5350 for Demonstration

Is your office strictly efficient?  Office costs, like plant or store costs, can only be cut by more efficient machinery.  Let us bring a DALTON to your office for inspections.  Or write for booklet descriptive of this new time and labor saver.

New York Sales Agents:  GRUBSS & SHERIDAN
642-646 Woolworth Bldg.

Dalton                    Main Office and Factory, Cincinati [sic], Ohio



Here are three views of a “Dalton Extra Special Adding Machine” of 1920 vintage, from, and as described in detail, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.



Dalton Adding Machines (at Branford Antiques)

Dalton Adding Machine (at Smithsonian Museum of American History)

The History of James L. Dalton and The Dalton Adding Machine Company (at Dalton Data Bank)

Mechanical Calculators (at Wikipedia)

The Dictaphone: July and August, 1918

Information can be transmitted.

Information can be analyzed.

It can be manipulated

But, for those activities to take place, something else is necessary:  Information has to be stored. 

For which purpose, the three mid-1918 advertisements below – promoting The Dictaphone sound recording machine – are examples. 

The Dictaphone Company was founded by Alexander Graham Bell, the name – Dictaphone – being trademarked by the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1907.  The technology of the device was based on the use of wax-coated cardboard cylinders for sound recording.  The Dictaphone company existed through 1979 (!), when it was purchased, though retained as an independent subsidiary, by Pitney Bowes. 


Though the advertisement uses different images – the Dictaphone itself; a “boss” or manager surveying inefficiency in an office setting; a generic office setting – and the “copy” also differs, the fundamental thrust of the ads is identical:  More efficient use of the employee labor, greater output of correspondence, and supplanting activity of absent employees. As per August 20, 1918: “No wonder that every stenographer away on her vacation adds greatly to the burden or short help, mail congestion and overtime work.”  (Uh-oh!)  Each advertisement closes with the suggestion that the prospective client should obtain a copy of Dictaphone Company’s booklet, “The Man at The Desk”.  

The full text of the three advertisements is presented below.

July 8, 1918

Why The Dictaphone for you?

The Dictaphone keeps the mail going out on time in spite of summer vacations.

The Dictaphone is the easiest, the most comfortable, the nerve-saving method of hot-weather dictation.

Two Dictaphone operators can write more letters per day than four able stenographers.  Dictaphone operators can wrote from 50% to 100% more letters per day, better letters, too.

Convince yourself with a demonstration in your office, on your work.  No obligations.

Secretaries and Stenographers: Send for free book, “One Way to Bigger Pay.”

Phone, Worth 7250          280 Broadway

“The Shortest Route to the “Mail Chute”

Write for “The Man at the Desk”

It is not a Dictaphone unless trade-marked “The Dictaphone,” made and merchandised by the Columbia Gramophone Company.


August 13, 1918

“If I Only Had the Dictaphone!”

Four of his stenographers are spending two hours apiece per day taking dictation, and the fifth is on her vacation.  No wonder that much important dictation must wait until tomorrow.

Install the Dictaphone in his office, and he would not miss the girl on her vacation.  The other three girls would easily turn out more letters per day than all four when they have to write each other in shorthand as well as on the typewriter.

And with the Dictaphone right at his elbow all the time, he could dictate his important mail at the hour most convenient to him.

You need the Dictaphone as much as he.  Phone or write today for a demonstration in your office, on your work.

Registered in the U.S. and Foreign Countries
Phone 7250 Worth           Call at 280 Broadway
Write for the booklet, “The Man at the Desk,” Room 224, 280 Broadway, New York

It is not a Dictaphone unless it is trade-marked “The Dictaphone,” made and merchandised by the Columbia Graphophone Company.

“The Shortest Route to the Mail Chute”


August 20, 1918

The Dictaphone solves vacation troubles

Look at the waste!  The typewriter is absolutely idle.  One stenographer has been taking dictation continuously for nearly two hours.  The second stenographer is puzzling over her shorthand notes.  And all this time, not one letter is actually being written.

No wonder that every stenographer away on her vacation adds greatly to the burden or short help, mail congestion and overtime work.

What is the remedy?  Stop writing each letter twice.  The Dictaphone makes it necessary to write each letter only once – on the typewriter.  Result – from 50% to 100% more letters per day – better letters, too, and at one-third less cost.  Phone or write for demonstration in your office, on your work.

To Secretaries and Stenographers
You have to pay for the time you lose going back and forth to take dictation – and waiting to take dictation – with overtime work and constant strain and anxiety.  Send for free book “One Way to Bigger Pay.”

Registered in the U.S. and Foreign Countries
Phone 7250 Worth           Call at 280 Broadway
Write for the booklet, “The Man at the Desk,” Room 224, 280 Broadway, New York

It is not a Dictaphone unless it is trade-marked “The Dictaphone,” made and merchandised by the Columbia Graphophone Company.

“The Shortest Route to the Mail Chute”



Dictaphone (at Wikipedia)

Dictation Machine (at Wikipedia)

United Electronics Company: 1944

Some advertisements focus on products. 

Many advertisements focus upon – and intend to enhance – publicity. 

But, a certain kind of advertisement takes pride in and specifically focuses upon people – employees – as the fundamental basis for an organization’s success, growth, and prominence.  Such an example appears below:  A 1944 (or ’45?) advertisement in The New York Times by the United Electronics Company, of Newark, New Jersey, announcing receipt of the Army and Navy “E” (for excellence) award in manufacture of war materials.

Cleverly and appropriately, the ad juxtaposes the faces of four employees – two women; two men – who are obviously in not military service, upon one of its products (an electron tube).  Behind and above is the military’s “E” pennant. 

The United Electronics Company was founded in 1934 and – though no longer in existence – was in business at least through 1958, as evidenced through the company’s 1959 product catalog, at  In 1958, the company became part of the Ling Electronics, Group, Inc., at the time, “…being one of the first six or seven companies longest engaged in the design and manufacture of transmitting power tubes for the general market.” 

The company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility which once stood at 42 Spring Street, in Newark, New Jersey, no longer exists. 


The electron tube displayed in the advertisement is a “Type 851 Modulator, A-F and R-F Power Amplifier, Oscillator”.  Technical specifications for the tube, presented in United Electronics’ 1947 catalog, are shown below. 

Notably, the tube’s price in 1947 was $160.00, which – given the rate of inflation – would seventy years later – 2017 – be approximately $1,760.  Now there’s a bit of a jump.

(Regretfully, a search of the United Electronics Catalog failed to reveal either the Eludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator, or, replacement parts for (* ahem * ) Interocitors...) 

So Much … For So Many

by so Few*

Today the United Electronics Company receives the coveted Army and Navy “E” Award for excellence in production of war materials.

We accept the citation with pride – and grateful recognition of the skill and loyalty of each man and women of our company who has toiled tirelessly to make possible the achievement and the honor.

Yet, as the distinguished banner now flies over our plant, we shall be mindful that this is no symbol of a goal completely won.  To us it will serve as a fresh daily inspiration in our aim for ever-faster and ever-better production of the communications equipment parts still urgently needed by our armed forces.

Under this new inspiration we pledge renewed and unceasing efforts.  In the way we can serve the best, we shall keep faith with our friends and loved ones on the fighting fronts – with the constant hope that the instruments we make play a useful part in bringing our men home safe – and sooner.




     *United employees number hundreds, not thousands.  Yet in terms of production per employee and relative overall company output, we believe these men and women have achieved a record unsurpassed in the nation.


“Header” page of United Electronics’ 1947 Power Tube Catalog


Technical specifications of the Type 851 Modulator


Google Earth view of 42 Spring Street in Newark, just north of Interstate 280 (Essex Freeway) and just west of the Passaic River.  One would never know what once existed there…


Ling-Temco-Vought (at Wikipedia)

United Electronics Company Tube Catalog (1947) (at Hathi Trust)

United Electronics Company Tube Catalog (1959) (at Bunker of Doom)

U.S. Inflation Calculator (at

The Noiseless Typewriter: June 24, 1918

An emblematic aspect of mid-twentieth-century movies and television programs which portrayed – whether seriously; whether in parody – corporate “office” settings, was the depiction of row, upon row (upon another row) of secretarial, clerical, or administrative personnel, each busily typing away upon their own typewriter or calculating (“adding”) machine.

A humorous example of this effect occurs in the Twilight Zone episode “Mr. Bevis“, which – starring Orson Bean as protagonist James B.W. Bevis – was broadcast on June, 3, 1960.  A representative “office” scene can be viewed between 3:55 and 4:44, where silence is cleverly used to connote an abrupt change in atmosphere.

While the the purely visual aspect of such scenes  – through their depiction of conformity and regimentation – could be humorously cynical, the sounds generated in such settings – a fusillade of overlapping clickety-clack * pause * clickety-clack * pause * riinnng-of-a-bell (end of line approaching! carriage return impending!) * clickety-clack (and, repeat) struck a deeper chord: The viewer did not actually have to “view” the scene to understand its nature.  Sound by itself was enough to communicate setting, characters, and sometimes give an inkling of plot.

It seems that “sound”, per se, has long been an issue in the business world: whether one hundred years ago; whether in movies and television; whether through the “white noise” deliberately permeating the offices of contemporary corporations. 

An example of this appears below:  An advertisement for “The Noiseless Typewriter” that appeared in The New York Times on June 24, 1918. 

George Fudacz’s “The Antikey Chop” website clearly presents the history of the Noiseless Typewriter Company and its products.  The Noiseless Typewriter was the collaborative invention of Wellington Parker Kidder (1853-1924) and George Gould Going (1872-1954), with their firm being incorporated in January of 1909.  Their company merged with the Remington Typewriter Company in 1924 “to form Remington-Noiseless, a subsidiary of The Remington Typewriter Company.”

As described at Richard Milton’s Portable Typewriters website (and as seen in the advertisement from the Times) “…the physical shape of the noiseless portable happened to fit perfectly the streamlined Art Deco contours favoured by designers in the 1920s and 1930s and the resulting Noiseless Portable is considered by many collectors to be one of the most beautiful typewriters ever designed.”

The Noiseless Typewriter
On the

Write for booklet

     Suppose you issued instructions that for one day all writing in your office must be done with pens.  What a miraculous quite would reign that day!  What an increase in concentration and deep thinking for yourself and every employee!

     You must have typewriters, of course, but there is no longer any law of necessity that says to you that you must have noisy typewriters.

     The Noiseless Typewriter is really noiseless.  It does beautiful work and it does it quickly.  It is durable – a mechanical marvel.  Makes the office a better place to work in.  Gives every stenographer a better opportunity for advancement into the main office.  Write, call or telephone for a demonstration.


253 Broadway —– Telephone ★ Barclay 8205


The images below, from the Noiseless Typewriters website, are of a Noiseless Typewriter (model) 4 (serial number 84565) manufactured circa 1919. 


Mr. Bevis (Description of episode at Wikipedia)

Mr. Bevis (Full Episode at

Noiseless Portable (at The Virtual Typewriter Museum)

The Noiseless Portable (at The Antikey Chop Typewriter Collection)

The Noiseless Typewriter (at Portable Typewriters)

General Electric Television Network – January 12, 1945

A sign of the times; a herald of the times, in the Times

An advertisement by General Electric from early 1945, promoting GE’s television network, through station WRGB in Schenectady, New York.  Relying far more on explanation than illustration (that illustration being a simple map), the ad connotes pride in General Electric Television’s recent past, describes the then current scope – in terms of geography and content – of GE’s network, and includes a hint about a future where, “millions of families throughout American can look forward to television in their homes after the war.”  (They had no idea…)

In the context of today – 2017 – where accessing information can be done near instantaneously, an intriguing highlight of the ad is mention of a broadcast of the 1944 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, “derived from films flown to New York.” 

The ad thus implies – without needed to explain the steps involved – the use of photographic (motion picture) film to record these events, and, the use of aircraft to transport said film to New York for development, after which images would be broadcast to GE’s audience. 

Technology not only collapses space, it collapses time.


The text of the advertisement is presented below…


five years old today

JUST FIVE YEARS AGO TODAY – January 12, 1940 – General Electric Television station WRGB, in Schenectady, added relayed programs to the service it rendered to several hundred families in upstate New York.  In addition to programs originating in its own studio, NBC programs sent out from WNBT, in New York City, were picked up by G.E.’s relay station in the Helderberg Mountains and broadcast to WRGB’s audience. 

This was America’s first television network – the first time that two television stations broadcast simultaneously the same regular programs.

Television set owners in Schenectady, Albany, and Troy have shared a lot of G-E television “firsts”.  This pioneer television audience has been a fireside laboratory.  Besides serving as “guinea pig” for relayed programs, it has expressed opinions on more than 900 different television shows originating at WRGB.  Experience thus accumulated on television programming will help to improve the television entertainment of tomorrow.

This television relay, five years old today, was developed by General Electric scientists and engineers as an answer to one of television’s greatest problems – long-distance transmission.  It has been proved by five years of actual use.  It is one more reason why millions of families throughout American can look forward to television in their homes after the war.


Here are a few of the many programs, originating at WNBT in New York, which the G-E relay has brought to homes in Schenectady, Albany and Troy areas.

1940 – January 12.  First program ever transmitted over relay was the play – “Meet the Wife”.

Easter services and Fifth Avenue Easter parade.

Opening baseball game.  Dodgers vs. Giants.

1941 – Boxing matches from Jamaica, Long Island, Arena.

Golden Jubilee Basketball Tournament from Madison Square Garden.

1942 – A series of instruction programs demonstrating Air Raid Protection methods for Air Raid Wardens.

1943 – World’s Championship Rodeo from Madison Square Garden.

1944 – Finals of Daily News Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament.

Democratic and Republican National Conventions in Chicago, from films flown to New York.

Hear the G-E radio programs: The G-E All-girl Orchestra, Sunday 10 p.m. EWT, NBC – The World Today news, Monday through Friday 6:45 p.m. EWT, CBS – The G-E House Party, Monday through Friday 4:00 p.m. EWT, CBS.


Trade in Your Old Radio!: Philco Radio – December 21, 1941

Technology changes, as does the world of business.

Some corporations are acquired by other enterprises.  Some merge with competitors.  Some, quickly or gradually, falter, and go out of business.

Neither the manufacturer – Philco Radio – nor the merchant – Davega Stores – from this New York Times advertisement of December 21, 1941 (published two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor) still exist.

But, it’s still s a most interesting advertisement. 

Notably, in the way that Philco’s advertising staff correctly anticipated that defense needs would limit the availability and selection of radios for the civilian market for the indeterminate future.

Notably, in the way that prospective customers are advised to trade in their old radios, without specifying what, exactly, they’ll receive in exchange!

Notably, in the way that a selling point of the “AC-DC Superheterodyne Radio” is the presence of 5 tubes.  (During the 1960s, hand-held, portable AM receivers which included transistors as components were dubbed “transistors”!  A selling point!)

As for Philco, the company was founded in 1892 as the Helois Electric Company, with the name “Philco” appearing in 1919.  The company existed as such until 1961, when it was acquired by the Ford Motor Company.

Davega stores were a New York metropolitan area chain that sold consumer durables, appliances, sporting goods, and apparel.  The company was founded in 1879, expanded to 27 stores by 1954, and survived until April of 1963, when it declared bankruptcy.  (Note that of the 27 stores listed below, all but 3 are located in the New York Metropolitan area.)

The full text of the advertisement is presented below…


Buy Your Christmas


Shop early for complete selection and prompt delivery.  Possible scarcity because of defense needs may limit later selection.


Full Vision Dial, Automatic Volume Control.  Super-sensitive Speaker.  5 Tubes and other features make this efficient, compact radio a tremendous value.

Trade In Your Old Radio

Three easy monthly payments.  Pay nothing until Jan. 15.  No Credit Charge on this plan.
Do not buy any Philco Radio with the serial number removed or mutilated, as this renders the factory guarantee null and void.


Smart, lightweight Philco portable for all-year-round use anywhere, indoors and outdoors!  Case is covered in new cowhide graining with ivory piping.  Real leather handle.

Trade In Your Old Radio

Downtown – 15 Cortlandt St.
Downtown – 63 Cortlandt St.
Near 13th St. 831 Broadway
Hotel Commodore – 111 E. 42nd St.
Empire State Bldg. – 18 W. 34th St.
Madison Square Garden – 825 Eighth Ave.
Yorkville – 148 E. 86th St.
86th St. – 2369 Broadway
Harlem – 125 W. 125th St.
180th St. – 1383 St. Nicholas Ave.
Cor. 163rd St. 945 Southern Blvd.
Bronx – 31 E. Fordham Rd.
149th St. – 2860 Third Ave.
Brooklyn (Boro Hall) – 360 Fulton St.
Brooklyn – 924 Flatbush Ave.
Brooklyn – 1304 Kings Highway
Bay Ridge – 3106 Fifth Ave.
Bensonhurst – 2065 86th St.
Brownsville – 1703 Pitkin Ave.
Jamaica – 163-24 Jamaica Ave.
Astoria – 31-55 Steinway St.
Flushing – 39-11 Main St.
Hempstead – 45 Main St.
White Plains – 175 Main St.
Newark – 80 Park Place (Military Park Bldg.)
Jersey City – 30 Journal St.
Paterson – 185 Main St.


For further information about Philco Radio Write
Davega – 76 9th Ave., N.Y.C., or Phone CHelsea 3-5255


Philco Radio (at Philco Radio Forum)

Philco Radio (General History)

Before the Intranet? – Automatic Electric Corporation’s Private Automatic Exchange: June 18, 1918

A survey of The New York Times published between 1917 and the early 1920s reveals the frequent appearance of advertisements promoting devices that were the predecessors – perhaps the harbingers? – of technologies that are now pervasive.  Many of these involve the communication, interpretation, storage, and retrieval of information, in the realms of manufacturing, business, and military activity.  In their depictions of dress and fashion; of speech; of human interactions, these advertisements are evocative of an era that’s largely receded beyond the horizon of common thought and cultural memory. 

As do all eras, in their own time.

The sometimes implied, occasionally hinted, and typically explicit message behind these advertisements – relevant to the world of 2017 – is the promotion of the benefits of new technologies for an enterprise:  Enhancing human skills.  Supplementing human activity.  Supplanting – whether temporarily or permanently; whether fortuitously or (?!) entirely intentionally – human labor.

The image below is an example of one such advertisement. 

Published in The New York Times on June 18, 1918, the ad promotes the Automatic Electric Company’s P.A.X. (Private Automatic Exchange) telephone communications system.  Founded in 1901 by Almon Stowger of Kansas City, who was, “…inspired by the idea of manufacturing automatic telephone exchanges that would not require switchboard operators,” the company was acquired by General Telephone and Electronics (GT&E) in 1955, through a merger with Theodore Gary & Company.  It continued operations until 1983, when it was merged by GT&E with Lenkurt into GTE Network Systems. 


The advertisement – the text of which is presented below – is simple and direct, relying more on text than images.  Well, hey, there’s only one image, anyway:  A rotary phone. 

The users of the P.A.X. system are listed below.

Irony…  The system’s largest user – with 880 units – was a firm once known as Sears, Roebuck, and Company… 

Some things never change. 

And other things?  Well, they do.  And, they will.

Let Your Telephones Help – Not Hinder

Many business plans today are finding their telephones a hindrance, not a help.

Slow connections, wrong numbers, incessant “busy” are taking a heavy toll of time and efficiency in these establishments because interior calls – 60 per cent or more of the average traffic – are crowded onto the already overburdened city telephone system.

Never before were operators so scarce, equipment so overburdened, traffic so heavy, and these hindrances to efficient city telephone service are daily growing more serious.

Your city telephones have one vital duty – keeping you in touch with the outside world.  You dare not slow up these business activities with organization messages.

For true efficiency and genuine economy department-to-department calls should pass over separate, distinct lines.

The Automatic Telephones of the Private Automatic Exchange – the P.A.X. – handle all interior calls with lightning speed and unfailing accuracy, over separate wires.

At one stroke the P.A.X. frees your city telephones for city calls, speeds up every process of your business and reduces rental costs to a minimum.

The P.A.X. needs no operator and gives 24-hour-service.

The P.A.X. enables fewer men to do more work with less effort.

The P.A.X. will serve 20 telephones, 200 or 2,000 with equal ease.

The P.A.X. has no complicated cables, no troublesome push-buttons.

The P.A.X. is making the telephone a help, not a hindrance, in many of New York’s leading business establishments.

Let us tell you how it can help you, too.  Write – or phone Murray Hill 3209 – and our industrial telephone experts will confer with you without obligation on your part.

Sixty per cent of our 1918 output is already booked, but prompt action will insure prompt deliveries.

Some P.A.X. Users

U.S. Arsenals, Navy Yards and Forts
French War Dept.
British Admiralty
Collier’s Weekly – 80 telephones
United Fruit Co. – 66 telephones
New Remington Rifle Co. – 338 telephones
Sears, Roebuck & Co. – 880 telephones
New York Central Lines (in New York City) – 592 telephones
Federal Reserve Bank of New York  – 51 telephones
Equitable Trust Co. of New York – 150 telephones
International Banking Corp. – 46 telephones
W.R. Grace & Co. – 124 telephones


Automatic Electric 40-60D P-A-X Business Telephone System (Promotional Brochure and Technical Specifications, at TCI (Telephone Collectors International) Library

Automatic Electric Corporation (Historical Overview)

The Disappearing PAX, at (“Devoted to Trailing Edge Communications”)

Intranet (general overview)



The Age of Advertising: The Time of Television – 1944 (Little did they know…)

This 1944 RCA advertisement for television features an interesting combination of advocacy, sociological and technical prediction, and industry promotion. 

Like the prior post presenting GE’s 1945 advertisement about television, this earlier example explains the future uses of television within the context of education (“courses in home-making, hobbies like gardening, photography, wood-working, golf”) culture (“drama, musical shows, opera, ballet”), and large-scale future employment for returning veterans. 

All valid and true, at least in the mindset of 1944. 

All valid and true, at least until those nations (both of the – then – Allies and Axis) which had been physically devastated by the war eventually rose to levels of industrial and intellectual capability which would challenge the technical and industrial preeminence of the United States. 

All valid and true, until television, as well as other social and technological developments, would change – as much as reflect – the nature of American culture and society, and that of other countries, as well.

In terms of promotion of those firms involved in or contributing to the manufacture of televisions, the advertisement lists 43 different firms.  Of the 43, how many exist today, either independently, or as subsidiaries? 

It took fifteen to thirty years for the automobile, the airplane and the movies to become really tremendous factors in American life.

But television will start with the step of a giant, once Victory has been won and the manufacturers have had the opportunity to tool up for volume production.

Few realize the enormous technical strides television has already made, when the war put a temporary halt to its commercial expansion.

Dr. V.K. Zworykin’s famous inventions, the Iconoscope and Kinescope (the television camera “eye” and picture tube for the home), go back to 1923 and 1929 respectively.  Signalizing arrival of the long-awaited all-electronic systems of television, their announcement stimulated countless other scientists in laboratories all over the world to further intensive development and research.  By the outbreak of World War II television, though still a baby in terms of production of home receivers, had already taken giant strides technically.

During the war, with the tremendous speed-up in all American electronic development, man’s knowledge of how to solve the production problems associated with intricate electronic devices has naturally taken another great stride ahead.

When peace returns, and with it the opportunity for television to move forward on a larger scale, all this pentup knowledge from many sources will converge, opening the way for almost undreamed-of expansion.  Then American manufacturers will produce sets within the means of millions, and television will undoubtedly forge ahead as fast as sets and stations can be built.

In a typical example of American enterprise, many of the nation’s foremost manufacturers, listed here, have already signified their intention to build fine home receivers.

IN THE TELEVISION AGE, the teachers of the little red schoolhouse will offer their pupils many scholastic advantages of the big city.  And in the homes an endless variety of entertaining instruction: courses in home-making, hobbies like gardening, photography, wood-working, golf.

WHILE REMAINING AT HOME, the owner of a television set will “tour the world” via television.  Eventually, almost the entire American population should share in the variety of entertainment now concentrated only in large cities…drama, musical shows, opera, ballet.

TELEVISION will aid postwar prosperity.  Television will give jobs to returning soldiers, and an even greater effect will be felt through advertising goods and services.  Millions will be kept busy supplying products that television can demonstrate in millions of homes at one time.


The manufacturers below may well be described as a Blue Book of the radio and electronics industries.  Their spirit of invention, research and enterprise built the radio industry into the giant it is today.  Who can contemplate their achievements and fail to realize that in them America has its greatest resources for the building of the “next great industry” – Television.  Watch for their names after the war!



Standage, Tom, Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014

Trimble, David C., Television: Airwaves Church of the Future, The Living Church, V 110, N 1, Jan. 7, 1945